Barber weekend, Friday notes


Ordinarily I’m on site but the quirk of the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series schedule having its two West Coast races at Long Beach and Phoenix book-ending this month, and with a good amount of family in Phoenix, it made the decision to not be at Barber Motorsports Park seem smart when I decided to not bypass it.

Then the Fernando Alonso news happened along with his decision to attend, and Zach Veach would also wind up making his debut in an injury fill-in role for JR Hildebrand, and I just had to laugh at myself that I’m not there, the first road or street race I’m missing since Toronto 2015 (was at 24 Hours of Le Mans). So voluntarily, that means this is the first one I just decided to skip since the Houston doubleheader in the sweltering heat and humidity of June, 2014.

Alas, there’s still a few things to note after the Friday sessions are in the books:

Friday practice 1, results
Friday practice 2, results


His test date of May 3 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway confirmed, now the countdown begins until Fernando Alonso arrives in Birmingham, Ala. for this weekend’s dry run and initiation with the team. Alonso posted a photo that he was on his way:

And naturally, the Alonso topic came up in a pair of media availabilities in-between the two practice sessions.

Graham Rahal minced no words in saying how much he thinks Alonso will like Indianapolis.

“For Alonso, I think he’s going to have a ball,” said Barber’s two-time defending runner-up. “He’s going to come over here. He’s going to be in a damned good car. You guys know that, and he’s going to have fun.

“He’s going to get passed and pass more cars in one month than he will in his entire Formula 1 career combined, but he’s going to have a complete blast, and I think it’s great for our sport that he has the interest that he has in it, and I hope that other guys want to come do it, too.”

The Team Penske trio of Simon Pagenaud, Josef Newgarden and Will Power also weighed in.

Said Newgarden, “That’s what the race is all about, having the best in the world run it and compete in it, so just adding a guy like Alonso is a great addition for IndyCar, and I think it’s going to be a great race for him, so we’re all excited to get to May and see how he does.”

Power added, “That’s going to be attract a lot of European media and just media around the world, so definitely helps put us on the map a little more. Not that the Indy 500 needs much more putting on the map, but it all helps.”

Pagenaud could add a bit more to the discussion because he’s raced at the grandest sports car race of them all, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and knows how much that race means in the grand scheme of things.

But he noted that since he’s the only one of the three who grew up in Europe, the pulse is palpable to when Nigel Mansell did the series in 1993 after winning the 1992 World Championship.

“Last time that really happened was Mansell. I was a kid and I remember when he made the jump to IndyCar. It really was a very — it was very loud, I would say, as a move,” Pagenaud said.

“I think Alonso, two-time world champion in Formula 1 coming here for something he’s not used to, I think it’s very courageous. It’s going to be exciting, I think, even for us just to see how he does, and he’s going to bring an incredible following from Europe, from Spain, and Spaniard people are very excited about racing in general, so I think it’s fantastic for IndyCar. It’s a new era, I think. It really is going to help us grow even more. We’re obviously growing very well right now, but this is going to be a big boost.”

It seems the buzz in the paddock is high about Alonso – it remains arguably as big if not bigger a talking point than the rest of this weekend – and the fever will only intensify once he and McLaren F1 executive director Zak Brown actually arrive.


After a respectable start to 2017, Spencer Pigot has been caught between a rock and a hard place in terms of his month of May. He’ll drive the INDYCAR Grand Prix in his usual No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet on May 13 but for the rest of the month, he doesn’t yet have an Indianapolis 500 seat as team owner Ed Carpenter is set to only run two cars, Carpenter taking over the No. 20 for the ovals starting next week in Phoenix.

Pigot might still be in with a shout for the Indianapolis 500 though, as Rising Star Racing principal Art Wilmes told IndyCar Radio reporter Ryan Myrehn during an Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires practice session.

“I’ve smiled a lot with him the last couple years. We’re hoping this is the last year he’s a part-time driver,” Wilmes said. “We’re still looking for the ‘500… we’re getting close.”

At least one proverbial remaining open seat would be an expected Chevrolet seat at Juncos Racing, the team not having made any announcements since confirming it would enter the ‘500.

Pigot won back-to-back championships with Juncos in Pro Mazda and Indy Lights so already knows Ricardo Juncos’ team well. If the option is no ride or making a return to a team where he’s had success for its Indianapolis 500 debut, it could be a good story to see the latter materialize.


Steady progression is always the goal when you make your debut and for Zach Veach, that seemed to be the end game in today’s session as he fills in for JR Hildebrand.

The 22-year-old from Stockdale, Ohio took the No. 21 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet to a best time of 1:10.6346, 2.542 seconds off the overall leader and 1.6254 seconds behind Pigot in the first session to a 1:09.8659 best lap, 2.1525 seconds off the lead and 1.1 seconds behind Pigot in the second.

Yes, that’s still a significant gap by modern day IndyCar standards – especially when in second practice 1.0995 separated spots 1-20 combined – but it was a sign of development from Veach in his first day in an IndyCar on a road course since September.

A day like that though makes the last in-season debutante’s, RC Enerson at Mid-Ohio last July for Dale Coyne Racing, all the more impressive with what he was able to do as he finished seventh overall in second practice there. Enerson was on site Friday at Barber looking on as an interested spectator as one of the talents on the sidelines who we hope to see back in a car sooner rather than later, an opinion his 2016 teammate at Dale Coyne Racing Conor Daly expressed late Friday.


“Georgina,” a statue that hangs below a bridge near Barber’s incredible motorcycle museum, got mentioned during the Team Penske media availability as track owner and maintainer of the incredible Barber facility, George Barber, got a question in during the press conference. Here’s the transcript:

Q. (From track owner George Barber) Would one of you slow down enough for Georgina to drop into your cockpit for a couple of hot laps?

WILL POWER: Yeah, sure.

JOSEF NEWGARDEN: We could put another seat on the side.

Q. I assume you all have seen Georgina?

JOSEF NEWGARDEN: I haven’t seen her yet – (told it’s the sculpture of the woman hanging from a bridge) oh, that’s her name is Georgina? Yeah, we saw her at the test.

SIMON PAGENAUD: Is she still here or not because I didn’t see her today. But she disturbed me the whole test. I couldn’t make that corner anymore.

JOSEF NEWGARDEN: Is she still out there? Is she out there hanging around?

SIMON PAGENAUD: Yeah, what’s happening?

JOSEF NEWGARDEN: Someone is following. No, yeah, it was pretty funny, yeah. It’s funny how you get used to those things, though, because at the test you noticed it the entire day, you come back and you don’t notice it anymore because you’ve seen it.

SIMON PAGENAUD: Somebody may have taken her on a date or something. I didn’t see her today. I don’t think she’s here.

JOSEF NEWGARDEN: She’s got amazing stamina. Her stamina is better than anyone.


We didn’t have an NBCSN practice show today, which allowed for some of the folks you’ll be seeing later this weekend on air and online to peruse the grounds at Barber:

James Hinchcliffe finished second on Dancing with the Stars last fall. And so to learn further, he witnessed some moves today from ASIMO – Honda’s impressive humanoid robot that will serve as the Grand Marshal at the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama presented by America’s First – in advance of the rest of the weekend.

Next week, per the Indianapolis Business Journal, Indiana Pacers legend Larry Bird is set to drive a retrofitted IndyCar in an attempt to deliver Indianapolis the 2021 NBA All-Star Game. Here’s hoping those efforts go better than the Pacers did in Game 3 last night, after blowing a 20-plus point lead to the Cleveland Cavaliers, and then forcing Daly to apologize for saying the Pacers were doing well…

This likely merits a greater piece separate beyond a notebook, but it’s worth noting that the brake issue that permeated the St. Petersburg weekend was not at all a story in Long Beach and likely won’t be a story this weekend in Birmingham. Barber isn’t a big brake track as it’s very much a rhythmic occasion. It speaks to the work the teams have done in concert with PFC Brakes, the new supplier this year, that this story has quieted to a whisper.

My MotorSportsTalk colleague Kyle Lavigne will have more in a notebook later today, but Oliver Askew again excelled in the first Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda race of the weekend en route to his second straight victory. Askew controlled the pace from the lead and defended well in his No. 3 Cape Motorsports Tatuus USF-17 Mazda from 14-year-old Kaylen Frederick, the No. 81 Team Pelfrey driver who scored his first USF2000 podium finish.

Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires ran one practice session today with varying tire strategies shaking up the order there as Shelby Blackstock topped the timesheets there in his No. 51 Belardi Auto Racing Dallara IL-15 Mazda. Meanwhile teammate Santiago Urrutia debuted the new gold and black, Arrow Electronics-backed livery on his No. 5 Belardi with SPM car.

Track activity was delayed one hour today by a crash in the first Battery Tender Global MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich Tires session, as an ARMCO Barrier needed replacing. Nathanial Sparks grabbed pole for that series’ first race later in the afternoon. In other sports car series, Kenton Koch has returned to action in a P1 Motorsports Ligier JS P3 and had the pole for Friday’s late afternoon race of the IMSA Prototype Challenge presented by Mazda series. The IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama session practiced but has qualifying and its first race both on Saturday.

Supercross 2023: Results and points after Seattle


The final results from the Monster Energy Supercross race in Seattle suggests the season is turning into a two-rider battle as Eli Tomac scored his sixth win of the season to tie Cooper Webb for the points’ lead and Chase Sexton crashed in yet another race.

Tomac downplayed the neck strain that caused him to lose the red plate for two weeks, but without that holding him back, it would appear it might have been a bigger problem than he admitted. Despite finishing on the podium in Detroit, Tomac has not shown the late-race strength everyone has come to expect. He was in a slump after scoring a season-worst in Indianapolis and described his sixth win as a “bounce back”.

With this win, Tomac tied James Stewart for second on the all-time list with 50 career Supercross victories. Six rounds remain and there is no sign that Tomac is slowing down. Jeremy McGrath’s 72 wins remains untouchable, for the moment at least.

RESULTS: Click here for full 450 Overall Results; Click here for 250 Overall Results

Cooper Webb was disappointed with second-place, but he recognized the Supercross results at Seattle could have been much worse. He rode in fifth for the first nine laps of the race, behind Tomac and Sexton. When Sexton crashed from the lead and Tomac took the top spot, Webb knew he could not afford to give up that many points and so he dug deep and found enough points to share the red plate when the series returns in two weeks in Glendale, Arizona for a Triple Crown event.

Justin Barcia scored his third podium of the season, breaking out of a threeway tie of riders who have not been the presumed favorites to win the championship. Barcia scored the podium without drama or controversy. It was his fourth consecutive top-five and his 10th straight finish of eighth or better.

Click here for 450 Heat 1 | Heat 2 | Last Chance Qualifier | Lap Chart

Jason Anderson kept his perfect record of top-10s alive with a fourth-place finish. Tied for fourth in the standings and 49 out of the lead, his season has been like a death of a thousand cuts. He’s ridden exceptionally well, but the Big Three have simply been better.

Sexton rebounded from his fall to finish fifth. He entered the race 17 points out of the lead and lost another five in Seattle. Mistakes have cost Sexton 22 points in the last three races and that is precisely how far he is behind Tomac and Webb. Unless those two riders bobble, this deficit cannot overcome.

The rider who ties Anderson for fourth in the points, Ken Roczen finished just outside the top five in sixth after he battled for a podium position early in the race.

Click here for 450 Overall results | Rider Points | Manufacturer Points

The 250 West riders got back in action after four rounds of sitting on the sideline and Jett Lawrence picked up where he left of: in Victory Lane. Lawrence now has four wins and a second-place finish in five rounds. One simply doesn’t get close to perfection than that.

Between them, the Lawrence brothers have won all but two races though 11 rounds. Jett failed to win the Anaheim Triple Crown and Hunter Lawrence failed to win the Arlington Triple Crown format in the 250 East division. In two weeks, the series has their final Triple Crown race in Glendale. When he was reminded of this from the top of the Seattle podium, Jett replied, “oof”.

Click here for 250 Heat 1 | Heat 2 | Last Chance Qualifier | Lap Chart

RJ Hampshire finished second in the race and is second in the points. This is fourth time in five rounds that Hampshire finished second to Lawrence. If not for a crash-induced 11th-place finish in the Arlington Triple Crown, he would be much closer in the points standings. With that poor showing, he is 23 points behind Lawrence.

Cameron McAdoo made a lot of noise in his heat. Riding aggressively beside Larwence, the two crashed in the preliminary. McAdoo could never seem to get away from Hampshire in the Main and as the two battled, the leader got away. It would have been interesting to see how they would have raced head-to-head when points were on the line.

Click here for 250 Overall results | 250 West Rider Points | 250 Combined Rider Points

The Supercross results in Seattle were kind to a couple of riders on the cusp of the top five. Enzo Lopes scored his second top-five and fourth top-10 of the season after crossing the finish line fourth in Seattle.

Tying his best finish of the season for the third time, Max Vohland kept his perfect record of top-10s alive. Vohland is seventh in the points.

2023 Results

Round 11: Eli Tomac bounces back with sixth win
Round 10: Chace Sexton wins, penalized
Round 9: Ken Roczen wins
Round 8: Eli Tomac wins 7th Daytona
Round 7: Cooper Webb wins second race
Race 6: Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence win
Race 5: Webb, Hunter Lawrence win
Race 4: Tomac, H Lawrence win
Race 3: Chase Sexton, Levi Kitchen win
Race 2: Tomac, J Lawrence win
Round 1: Tomac, J Lawrence win

2023 SuperMotocross Power Rankings

Week 10: Chase Sexton leads with consistency
Week 8: Chase Sexton unseats Eli Tomac
Week 7: Jason Anderson narrowly trails Tomac
Week 6: Perfect Oakland night keeps Tomac first
Week 5: Cooper Webb, Sexton close gap
Week 4: Tomac retakes lead
Week 3: Ken Roczen takes the top spot
Week 2: Roczen moves up; Sexton falls
Week 1: Tomac tops 450s; Jett Lawrence 250s